"That is what modern is meant to be!" one influential American retailer called out as he left Jonathan Saunders' show. "And wouldn't it be great to see an Oscar girl in a gown like that?" He was raving about the remarkable, vertically pieced, linear dresses at the end of the show—either asymmetrically sliced patchworks of solids and zones of print, or dark columns with narrow triangles of fluid chiffon flowing in front, tethered to the waist with contrast belts.

Their graphic energy and athletic presence would certainly make a woman stand tall and distinguished in a red-carpet herd—or any other, come to that. The same went for most of the daywear: coats and dresses also constructed from narrow panels of royal blue and black, sometimes with an inset of white-and-beige stripes and contrasting horizontals to emphasize the waist.

Saunders said he'd developed the idea partly from looking at the linear stripes in the work of the artist Daniel Buren. The clever thing was the way he manipulated material and color to completely flattering effect. By reducing his vivid dégradé and scribbly textured prints to strips running center-front, he made each dress look willow-slim. It was a huge stride forward for this young designer, marking his transition from a genius printmaker to someone who is beginning to manipulate shape in an ingenious contemporary manner.